IBM Continues Drive for Mid-market Companies

Conventional wisdom about software platforms is that the largest companies run IBM and Java technologies, ceding much of the mid- and smaller business market to Microsoft and .NET. But that’s hardly Big Blue’s view of the future. IBM is pressing hard to displace Microsoft in the mid-size business arena–which it sees as potentially a $46-billion server market.

To capture more of the mid-market business segment, IBM has been boosting its small and mid-size business partners by making it easier to work with IBM’s premier mid-market server, the IBM eServer iSeries system (once known as the AS/400). The program provides support services to help partner ISVs modernize and strengthen their iSeries applications, for example, along with education and conversion support.

The iSeries system includes hardware, middleware, storage and security, and can run IBM’s i5/OS operating system, Windows (through an adapter), Linux and AIX simultaneously.

IBM’s mid-market push comes as ballooning maintenance costs plague the IT industry. According to a January report from Merrill Lynch, only 30 percent of IT budgets go toward the initial hardware investment; 70 percent is spent on overhead costs. Ten years ago, that cost ratio was reversed.

Mid- to large-size law firms are an example of the market IBM covets. Tyler Cooper & Alcorn, a 70-attorney law firm with offices in four locations in Connecticut, moved from a Microsoft system to the iSeries. According to Barry Winnick, the firm’s IT director, by running a single iSeries, he’s been able to avoid adding four to six additional servers as the firm’s needs have grown. “We’ve added users, but no boxes. We’re saving a good chunk of change because one box is doing so many things.”

He’s also saved on IT staff, Winnick says, by continuing to maintain three people to support the network and infrastructure. “Plus, I don’t have to worry about tape backups for all those servers.”

Winnick says one of the greatest benefits of running IBM Domino and Notes has been far less vulnerability to common Windows-borne viruses and spyware. “Our mail server and our e-mail client are not risk points,” Winnick says. “For attorneys, e-mail is becoming the same type of communication device as the phone. Knowing we’re running a secure platform gives everyone peace of mind.”

About the Author

Linda Briggs is a freelance writer based in San Diego, Calif. She can be reached at [email protected].